Using the procedure licensed by Chokmah and after much trial and error Thaumiel contrives the possession of a famous Gerash warrior named Israel, and for a time hy walks the Middle Lands under that name, experiencing the life of the world directly, in the same way the nephilim experience it, exactly as Chokhmah has done with Haziel, except that Thaumiel forces hyz possession upon Israel.
And Thaumiel-Israel never wants for the smallest thing, because hy makes himself known as the incarnation of Thaumiel to the prophet Zadkiel, and the limitless resources of the patriarch Kirodiel Gerash are put at hyz disposal.
Then hy turns his thoughts to Earth and the family that has been chosen by Chokhmah to evaluate if the world-dwellers can remain faithful to an eloah for decades sight-unseen. With the leave of Haziel, Thaumiel-as-Israel journeys there to see the place with hyz own eyes, and search for Yakov, the grandson of the original contactee. He intends to pick a fight with this grandson.
Israel takes little thought for hyz personal safety, since Israel is a mighty yang, nearly seven feet tall, hardened by the constant violence of Barbelo, and hy hears from Chokhmah that Yakov is more the son of his mother than the son of his father, and even his father was pretty wussy. Yakov is, by all reports, a passive man who prefers the womanly arts of back-room whispering and plotting to the masculine arts of direct action on the field.
According to Chokhmah, Yakov used that inborn talent for treachery to steal both the Birth Right (which granted him two parts in three of Isaac’s estate) and also the Blessing (which carried the power of Paterfamilias, the supreme authority in the family). Chokhmah seems amused by it all, and says all her chosen people would need to deal in this manner in the future, since they would never have numbers on their side, and besides, says she, Yakov went fugitive immediately thereafter because Esau was pissed, and the Birth Right, at least, devolved back on Esau de facto if not de jure.
For twenty years Yakov dwells in Harran among the kin of his mother, and he marries his cousins Leah and Rachel. Now he returns to Canaan with his wives, children, and livestock, but scouts walking on point tell him they are running smack into Esau again.
After Yakov crosses the river Jordan he sends messengers ahead of him to meet his brother Esau, perhaps mention that he has a lot of oxen and asses and flocks and servants, and hint that he is prosperous enough to smooth over any hard feelings Esau might still have over losing his Birth Right and his Blessing.
The messengers return to him saying that Esau is coming out to meet him with four hundred men. That worries Yakov to no end. He divides his caravan into two halves. That way if Esau smites one, the other might escape. Yakov prays a humble prayer to Chokhmah for deliverance, and then sets aside a healthy portion of his herd as a gift to Esau. Yakov sends two hundred and twenty goats, two hundred and twenty sheep, thirty camels, fifty cattle, twenty asses, and ten foals, which his servants take on ahead to deliver to Esau.
As for Yakov himself, he hangs back in a rearguard, not against his wives’ people, which he has left far behind, but against someone he has noticed watching him from afar. Yakov hides himself cleverly amid vegetation near the stream called Jabbok, a tributary of the Jordan river, and lies in wait.
When the stranger approaches, unaware of Yakov’s presence, Yakov assails him suddenly, and there ensues a bitter fistfight that soon changes into a marathon wrestling match which goes on through most of the night.
As they continue to fight, Yakov keeps saying, “Who are you?” but the stranger refuses to say a word to him. Thaumiel it was Yakov was fighting, possessing the body of Israel the nephilim, and hy is dismayed that Yakov proves to be so tenacious. Some momma’s boy! Even when he wrenches Yakov’s femur out of its socket at the hip, causing great torment, Yakov refuses to yield.
Finally even Thaumiel-Israel is at the end of his resources, and near exhaustion, and he commands Yakov to let him go. Yakov says, “I will not release you until you bless me.” Because Yakov’s entire life has been a quest for life more abundantly.
So Thaumiel-Israel says, “No longer shall men call you Yakov, but Israel, for you have contended with elohim and nephilim and human alike, and you have prevailed, and wrested my name away, and taken it for your own.”
Then Thaumiel is released by Yakov, now called Israel, and hy goes back to Barbelo to rule family Gerash directly by taking possession of the body and names of each of the Patriarch’s descendants in turn, but he never comes again to Earth nearer than the Moon.
At sunrise Israel hurries to join his wives and children, but he walks with a limp for the rest of his life.
When Esau draws near with his four hundred men, Israel puts forth his five children with their two mothers, then passes in front of them and bows to the ground seven times before standing face to face with his brother.
And to his everlasting surprise, Esau does not assail him, but rather embraces him, and kisses him, and they both weep.
So the feud is ended, if ever there was a feud, for after Israel had fled for his life all those years ago Esau soon forgot that his Blessing and Birth Right had been stolen, since he obtained all of Isaac’s possessions anyway by default, and he had come to miss his twin brother sorely.
Israel introduces his children and their mothers to Esau, and he begs his brother to accept the gift of herd animals he sent him, “Take them, please, because Chohkmah has dealt graciously with me, and I have enough.” And Esau cannot refuse.
Throughout this meeting Israel is extremely courteous to Esau and calls him “my lord” even though the Blessing requires Esau to call Israel lord. The love Israel still has for his brother supersedes all such considerations.
Then after a short discussion Esau agrees to go on ahead because Israel has children and young animals who cannot travel very fast. So they part with good feelings between them. Esau crosses the Jordan to the east, and eventually the nation of Edomites spring from his loins.
As for Israel he moves into the hill country facing the coastal plain and the terrain and climate leads his family to gradually transition from a nomadic existence in the arid regions to a more settled existence with planted vineyards and smaller, more static herds of livestock. They become garden variety Canaanites, with the exception that they never raise pigs, because they retain certain prohibitions that Chokhmah conveyed to Abram to avoid certain foods that led to disease.
At this point actual history and the narrative given in the Bible diverge for a time, because the family splits in two, and they often find themselves at odds with one another in terms of religion and politics. Two powerful city-states emerge, Samaria in the north, and Jerusalem in the south, each ruled by kings beginning in the 9th Century BCE. The name Chokhmah is forgotten, to be revived only much later in Jewish mysticism.
In Samaria, the priests break the Abrahamic covenant and begin to represent God with images of a golden calf and they now call him El Elyon. Samaria gets into three-way struggles with Tyre and the Assyrian Empire for control of Galilee and the surrounding lands, and in the end they lose. Sargon II comes in around 722 BCE and scrapes them out like a gourd, carting the people off and forcing them to intermarry with the Medeans to erase their identity as descendants of Israel.
Chokhmah says good riddance and focuses on the Judahites. The priests in Jerusalem begin to call God Yahweh, and depict him as a warrior-king, but unlike the northern branch of the family they never erect idols to represent him and by and large they hold up their end of the bargain that Abram once made.
Thaumiel’s hypothesis that humans could never remain devoted to an eloah if they were left to themselves utterly fails. For in Judah a great nation has been raised up to Abram, the children of Israel, and all of them keep the covenant of Abram. They reject the false gods of the neighboring peoples and worship Chokhmah alone.
On account of the faithfulness of the House of Israel, Thaumiel no longer has valid grounds to call for the destruction of the whole human race. Thus the oracle of Chokhmah is fulfilled when she said to Abram, through Melchizedek, “All the earth shall find blessing in you.” Chokhmah would never tolerate Thaumiel carrying out the destruction of mankind on Earth as he so often threatens to do, even if he still has the power of life and death over the nephilim on Barbelo. Chokhmah believes Thaumiel is still looking for any reason to prove the world-dwellers are a danger to elohim but the faithfulness of the House of Israel goes a long way toward laying Thaumiel’s accusations to rest. It is clear all of the elohim need to come to terms with the planet-dwellers and learn to co-exist with them.
When Kimberly Zinter is a sophomore she is picked up at school one mid-morning by a deacon of the Green Dome Church and driven home but he won’t tell her what is wrong. When Kim gets home she sees that her mother is crying and she starts to cry in sympathy before Clara can even say a word. After a while Clara looks directly at her daughter, immersed in grief and too horrified to face blurting it out to her, but finally she wails, “Kim, your father is dead!”
Then Kim’s tears well up from her own pain and not merely from empathy with her mother’s pain. They both cry until there is nothing more to give, and even when Kim’s eyes are dry she is still wracked with dry sobs and whimpers that trail off at length to silence, only to start again. After an hour of this she starts to speak. “Why?” she asks, over and over again until her mother comes clean.
Peter Twofeathers has explained everything to her. For years he had lent the Golden Gift to Erik to honeycomb the land under the mountain and the surrounding area at night with tunnels to access isolated pockets of coal. This had been the bread and butter of the whole town for almost ten years. But last night there was a cave-in that smashed Erik’s helmet lantern, plunging him into total darkness, and he couldn’t dig his way out, even with the Golden Gift, because he got turned around somehow and bored deeper into the mountain rather than back out the way he came. As Erik made a greater volume of space to walk in, the air he had left to breathe was stretched too thin, and there were also suction losses through the Golden Gift itself. It wasn’t until well past dawn that miners with picks and shovels broke through the cave-in and reached Erik’s body.
Peter assured Clara that he died without injury or pain. He simply fell asleep never woke up again.
As for Peter, while he deeply mourns the death of Erik he is also troubled that the men who retrieved Erik’s body are members of the Church and it is impossible to hide the fact that Erik had been in possession of the Golden Gift, which is the most sacred Green Dome Church relic. Although the Golden Gift is returned to Peter, this revelation is already causing unquiet among the faithful. He hears that Klaus Hansen, his chosen Apostle from the White Wing, is preparing to unseat Peter before his time.
Children aren’t supposed to be confronted with death so early. Kim thinks about her own death. She wonders what it is like for her father at that moment, and if there really is an afterlife. If there is not a second life, then her father doesn’t even know that he is dead. He doesn’t know that he had ever lived and married Clara and fathered Kim. If so, then what is the point of doing anything? The Green Dome Church is supposed to have the answers to all these questions, but what if they are wrong? Added to her personal grief, all these thoughts are intolerable to Kim.
She doesn’t go to school for a week. Sofie and Dory came over after a couple days to see if their friend is well. She is not well, but their visit lifts Kim from her grief a microscopic bit, and Clara notices that. When Hunky’s mother comes to pick her daughter up, Clara asks her to stay until Dory’s parents came as well, because she wants to ask all of them something.
“The funeral for Kim’s father will be this weekend,” she says after they are all together. “I’d like to take Sofie and Dory to be with Kim when we go.”
“I don’t think so,” Hunky’s mother demurs. “These are just school girls, and a funeral is a pretty solemn thing.”
“Besides,” Dory’s father adds, “this should be a private family time for you and Kim.”
“That’s precisely the thing,” Kim’s mother replies. “We have no family here in Greendome. My parents are back East and my husband was a sort of a black sheep in his own family. They’re Bunners. I’ve never been close to them. Kim is taking the death of her father very hard, but when Sofie and Dory came over to see us today I noticed a visible improvement in Kim. I could see it come right out to light up her eyes again. That’s when I realized that Sofie and Dory are Kim’s real family.”
“Clara, I still don’t think a Green Dome Church funeral is something these girls should see,” Hunky’s mother insists.
“But they won’t see the actual Rites. Not even Kim will see that. Look, my husband is dead. I have to go lay him to rest, and I have to bring Kim. And I think she needs to be with her best friends right now.”
In the end they consent to let the girls remain together for the weekend.
For Clara this is her first time to see the Golden Gift in action, the central mystery and devotion of the Green Dome Church. The children are not allowed to attend the actual ceremony upstairs in the Temple Sanctuary, and it would have been unseemly to run around and play while the body of Kim’s father is sent to his long home, along with five other Church members from across the globe. So they sit around in the Temple basement getting quite bored as volunteers prepare the Sunday afternoon dinner for hundreds of parishioners.
Jerry Shybear joins them after breaking away from a group of boys smoking outside. The original Shy Bear is his grandfather and he seems to know a lot of secrets about the Temple. Jerry leads the girls into a gigantic supply room which isn’t locked, and they go along with him because there is nothing else to do.
There is no electric light within, only a window with blinds, and since it is gloomy outside the Temple it is even more gloomier inside the storage room. There’s an old piano which is probably broken, a map of the Tri-State corner area, and heaps of the sort of things one typically finds in a church: unused hymnals, stacks of old bulletins, empty mason jars, and dozens of folding chairs. The children can hear organ music and the choir bleeding through the ceiling from the main sanctuary upstairs.
There are Green Dome scrapbook albums, Green Dome cookbooks, Green Dome paints and brushes, Green Dome wood carvings, Green Dome homespun, and broken Green Dome furniture. Hunky finds a Green Dome walking stick made from a gnarled old piece of wood and shifts it from hand to hand to get the feel of it.
One of the walls is unfinished, and Jerry moves aside a piece of plywood to reveal another dark space beyond. It was so black inside it drinks their vision like a sponge. “I’ve never been in here,” he says.
None of the girls want to go in there either but Jerry dares them to go, so naturally Hunky is the first one through. Then Jerry follows her to show he isn’t afraid. Dory and Kim are both afraid of the dark hole, and they are not afraid to admit it, but they also don’t want to be left behind so they squeeze in after them.
It is too dark to see, but Jerry lights a series of matches, which only last a few seconds. This gives him time to find an ancient dusty candle, and he lights that. After that the kids have a little bit of light and they can see where they were.
There is no tile floor, just natural stone and dirt, and a sort of stone igloo in the center of a circle of stones. This is the cairn of the avatar of Chokhmah in its original state, resting on the very summit of Green Dome. The structure is completely unmolested. Superstition overcame Prophet Lange and the Apostle Wanica at the end, it seemed. They built the whole Temple right over the top of the cairn as if to hide it.
There is even a little commemorative Green Dome mouse. Dory and Kim scream together when they see it.
Without a word Hunky lets her cane fly in an arc over her head, and she brings it down, hoping to scare the mouse away. But she ends up hitting the mouse instead, with a lucky shot. “This is a church right? So there’s your church mouse.”
“You crippled it,” Dory observed, shifting instantly from fear to maternal concern. The animal is in obvious pain and tries to stagger away.
“I didn’t mean to actually hit it,” Sofie replies.
They all take a closer look at the creature. The head of the mouse is misshapen. There is a huge white bump on the back that is nearly as large as the mouse’s head itself. Dory said, “Look what you did, Sofie! Look at that bump!”
“That isn’t from anything I did,” Sofie insists. She puts the end of her cane directly over the head of the crippled creature and presses down hard to finish it off. “And I don’t want it to suffer. This is better.”
“Now what do we do with it?” Kim asks, disgusted by the sight of the dead creature with what looked to be a flat furry coin where its head had been. The bump is still intact, but no one knows what it was.
Sofie scratches the bare ground with the cane and digs a little trench. When it is deep enough Sofie slide the mouse into it with her foot, and then both she and Jerry kick dirt over it and stamp it all down to finish the job.
“Rest in pieces,” Sofie says.
“Now if you ladies will join me,” Jerry says, “I want to find out what’s in that pile of rocks.” He goes to the cairn and begins trying to pull one of the stones loose, not realizing his grandfather Jashen Two Pricks once did the very same thing on his vision quest, but he had told nobody but his father.
Jerry isn’t making much headway. Hunky offers what little help she can, and one of the stones slowly gives way like a hinged door. They move it aside just enough that they all could squeeze inside the stone igloo one at a time.
This is it, the Holy of Holies, the very tippy-top of Green Dome hill where the avatar of Chokhmah still lies in its original position. The white exterior surface of the little dome is dotted with thousands of tiny holes. Some of these holes have spines sticking out of them like the needles of a cactus.
Kim puts an index finger close to a part of the dome that is needle-free, and that is something that she ought not to have done. There is a sound like a short squirt of steam and her fingertip is instantly skewered. She pulls away involuntarily before the pain even registers. “Ahhh! Dammit!”
After that the white dome sports one more extruded spine from its surface.
Dory is a little smarter. She grabs a pencil out of her purse and leans over the black sphere with the eraser tip prudently standing in for her finger. She verifies the white dome is still active and just as nasty.
Jerry thought about kicking it, but a glance at his thin moccasins leads him to change his mind. So the thing is a mystery. Best to leave it at that.
Hunky is the only one who is not afraid. She allows her own finger to be skewered by the white dome and says to Kim, “Whatever trouble you’re in for getting stabbed by this thing, I’m in the same trouble.” And so she has her final victory over Jerry in the test of courage.
After that Kim, Jerry and Dory all shake their heads and slide back out of the stone cairn, followed last by Hunky. But when Dory and Kim are outside they hear another sound and both of them freeze. One of the elders of the Church is standing in the storage room cocking his ears to listen. All of the kids hold their breath and try not to make a sound. The deacon looks into the dark gap and could just make out two silhouettes.
“Get out of there!” he yells, exploding in anger. With red faces Jerry, Kim, Hunky and Dory scramble out of the hole, then out of the supply room, and they sit down in a corner of the basement lunchroom. The deacon locks the supply room tight, and after that it always remained locked for so as long as the Temple stands, which actually wasn’t to be for much longer.
When Kim sees her mother again during the meal after the ceremony she seems somehow different. Kim can tell she wasn’t mourning my father anymore. “It’s all true, Kim,” she says with her soft lisping voice. “Everything in the Buron, it’s all true!”
Of course Clara has always believed what she was taught with the ears of faith, but now she has seen the Golden Gift work with her own eyes and she comes away with an unshakable bedrock foundation of belief that she would carry with her until her own end. And that is precisely the intended effect of the Last Rite.
A week after that, Kim and Sophie both come down with the same disease as that little church mouse. They get matching little bumps at the base of their necks.
Nanoengineering is inspired by the molecular machines of life, but it bypasses the trial-and-error watery sloppiness and superseded functions that are carried out by all cells and duplicates life’s useful functions with more deliberate precision. In 1942 no human being is anywhere near actually working on that scale. What the avatar of Chokhmah did to Kimberly Lokken, Sophie Krouse, and that little church mouse they found under the altar was infect living nerve and brain tissue. On a one-for-one basis this infection gradually replaces each nerve cell with a nanotechnology facsimile after “learning the ropes” and figuring out how to respond to hormones, nutrients, and electrical signals from other cells.
Soon after their mothers discover the bump on the back of their respective heads, Kim and Hunky are taken to a small hospital in town. The doctors cannot diagnose them, so the girls are handed off to the government and eventually flown to Washington State and placed in quarantine.
Far in the west of the lands claimed by family Gerash, on the Western Sea at the mouth of the river Dashok lies the city of Salem. Many yen from the city of Thaumiel remove to there, and some of these join Princess Khondiel’s Fallen Angels, a fierce army of female warriors that is utterly without precedent on Barbelo. Many yeng go to Salem as well, those who believe all nephilim are on a level, and yen should never be treated as mere property. Salem, then, is a “liberal” city, home to those who are disgusted and horrified at the sight of Haziel being paraded naked in a wooden cage across the chilly Middle Lands of Barbelo.
As Salem fills up with the enemies of Thaumiel, the prophet Zadkiel surrounds the city with many Eyes of Thaumiel in their black livery, and they turn back anyone who is not native to that city and try to enter. Princess Khondiel has rallied all in the Middle Lands who are sympathetic to Haziel and are willing to make the journey to Salem. But now the time is come for har to try to enter the city harself, yet sha cannot not travel openly, for the blockade is pursued with vigor.
But one of the farmers who lives nigh to the city conceals Khondiel within a wooden box and drives to the lines of the Eyes of Thaumiel who ring the city. There no wagons are permitted to pass. But the farmer and three sturdy dirks in hyz employ take the box off the wagon and bear it themselves toward the city using two poles threaded through brass rings on the side of the box while another yang drives the wagon back to the farm. Yet they are not alone, for many other farmers must resort to the same expedient to move their goods into the city.
One of the Eyes of Thaumiel grows suspicious and barks to the yeng carrying Khondiel, “What yang of you be the loadmaster?”
The three dirks let fall the box and edge fearfully away from oldest among them.
“This shipment be mine, lord. I am Sibiel, a farmer of the valley of Odargas.”
The Eye of Thaumiel barks again, “Dost thou make vouchsafement for the goods thou bearest?”
And Sibiel answers, “I do, milord.”
“Yet I would see therein.”
Sibiel suddenly looks crestfallen. Resigned, hy tells the dirks to open the box. Haziel’s closest disciple Khondiel tumbles out, dazed by the sudden change from darkness to the light of day. The other three laborers feign outrage at the smuggling attempt in an effort to save their own skins.
“Stand ye apart from Sibiel,” the Eye of Thaumiel proclaims, “all who value your lives, for contrary to the will of Thaumiel hy bearest aid to the fugitive sister of King Melchizedek to enter Salem.”
But Khondiel is not cowed by the pretensions of this so-called Eye of Thaumiel. Sha curses hym in a loud voice, saying, “May Chokhmah send down fire from heaven and smite thee and all thy companions!”
At first the farmers from Odargas think the princess is joking, but immediately after sha speaks, brilliant orange bolts of fire shoot down from the clear sky. So bright and hot is this fire that the yeng think their own eyebrows have been burnt off. The fire from the sky vaporizes twelve Eyes of Thaumiel in a single simultaneous targeted strike, leaving only smoking grease spots where the yeng once had stood.
In fine, Chokhmah sent fire down from heaven and smote the Eye of Thaumiel and all hyz companions.
And Princess Khondiel, after thanking Sibiel and hyz farm hands and paying them well, advances to the ferry to cross to Salem unmolested.
But the priesthood soon notices the missing Eyes of Thaumiel, and the true story is wrung out from witnesses by torment and threats of torment. The priests learn that bolts of fire from the sky killed a dozen Eyes of Thaumiel. And when Israel hears what happened hy knows the attack was direct interference from Chokhmah, the first such meddling that hyz daughter has dared to do with her avatar on Barbelo.
“I am confronted with a pair of dilemmas,” Israel tells his prophet Zadkiel that evening in the part of the castle where hy parks hyz own flying avatar. “Just as I, Thaumiel, have taken possession of this male body and go by the name Israel, so has the eloah Chokhmah taken possession of that yin’s body and goes by the name of Haziel. And yet I have commanded you to preach that I am the only god, and that other gods do not exist.”
“And you may trust, Lord, that as your prophet I will foster and maintain that belief among the people.”
“You must take the utmost care where Haziel is concerned, for sha is indeed Chokhmah, one of the elohim, despite my propaganda to the contrary, which you at least would do well not to believe. The cage is necessary, because I am trying to discredit Haziel as a nephil, and…for other reasons. The people must not come to believe this yin named Haziel is in union with an eloah.”
But even as hy speaks Israel is troubled, because hy knows Zadkiel has come to believe that hyz struggle against Haziel means that Chokhmah herself should be held in contempt, which is the impulse of the world-dwellers when dealing with enemies among their own order. Yet Chokhmah is an eloah like hymself, and friend or foe, hy thought the world-dwellers should give her the respect that was her due. Thaumiel would not tolerate the slightest contempt from Zadkiel in the direction of Chohhmah.
Israel continues. “My other dilemma centers around the narrative I have constructed that yin are unwarlike, and are to be treated as mere property. Khondiel and har so-called Fallen Angels, who are without peer on Barbelo, contradict this narrative every day. They cannot be permitted to continue, and yet when it comes down to it, who is really worthy to confront them?”
“Surely my Lord makes a ridiculous joke.”
“Khondiel has exactly one weakness,” Kirodiel explains to Zadkiel, as though hyz prophet had not interrupted at all. Hyz mouth screws up in an expression of utter disdain. “Khondiel’s only weakness, of course, is Haziel harself. And so I am willing to tolerate the indignity of a human incarnation of an eloah being caged like a beast, because I assure you that is the only thing staying the annihilation of this army by the Fallen Angels. Yet it is also the only thread that will assure the destruction of the Fallen Angels. Now listen carefully, and I will give you your orders.”
So Israel gives Zadkiel a detailed strategy, but the only thing that really stands out in Zadkiel’s mind is hyz instructions on what to do with the Salemites: “Make the inhabitants of the city of Salem to be a spoil for dogs and all manner of birds, and let the will of Thaumiel be brought to fulfillment!”
At dusk in the city of Salem, in the castle Brys which is built on a two ji high bluff on the north side of the mouth of the river Dashok, Khondiel presents harself for an audience with har brother King Melchizedek. Sha goes with two of har chief lieutenants who have preceded har to Salem by many days. The king has not seen hyz sister face-to-face since hy was unceremoniously dispatched back to Earth, and hy longs to embrace har as a sibling would, yet this is a formal audience, and further hy wishes to see what influence Haziel has wrought in har.
After Khondiel is announced and kneels before hym, the King tells har to rise. Then hy looks hard at Khondiel with a piercing gaze and says, “It gladdens my heart to see you again, sister. I find the counsel of the gods has sundered them one from another. Once I was sent to the other world to serve both of them, but now as king of this city I have been forced to choose between them. And know this, Princess Khondiel: I have chosen to stand with Chokhmah.”
Khondiel replies, “My brother the King knows that I embrace Chokhmah and all those who also embrace her. And further the King knows hyz sister is filled with unbreakable love for hym, and is loyal to a fault. Therefore, my brother and King, if you will, command me.”
Melchizedek says, “The Eyes of Thaumiel long pressured our father to turn Haziel over to them when sha dwelt here, and now that our father is dead and Haziel taken, they also demand as prisoners the Fallen Angels who have taken refuge here in Salem. They have closely watched the approaches to my city for your own return, but now I detect almost a frenzy in their doings. The ferrymaster could tell me little. Do you know why they are acting so?”
“Yes I do know, brother. There was a kind of demonstration that Haziel and I arranged for the benefit of witnesses.”
“Then you have been in contact with har?”
“Zadkiel is stupid and sloppy, brother. I can (and have) get in contact with Haziel at will.”
“What happened at the ferry dock?”
“In a show of pretense I called upon Chokhmah to smite the Eyes of Thaumiel when they discovered me and sought to kill the kind farmer who tried to smuggle me into the city. Then fire fell from heaven and destroyed twelve Eyes of Thaumiel utterly, such that no evidence remained that they had been living nephilim only moments before. Forgive me if this has constrained your counsels, Sire, but it was the only way to break through the lines.”
“Then it is clear that Thaumiel will now be openly at war with us,” the King says, “and Salem can no longer be called a sanctuary to you, nor to your Fallen Angels, nor any of the people within our walls. Soon every hand of family Gerash will be raised against us.”
Khondiel asks, “Then are you to command me and the Fallen Angels to leave the city at this time, dear brother?”
“Far from it, Khondiel. I would ask you to command your Fallen Angels in league with the forces of the city, for soon the Army of Thaumiel will arrive seeking vengeance for their missing Eyes of Mastema.”
And this Khondiel most eagerly agreed to do.
Many years before war came to Salem, on a hill near the city, King Gordiel, the great-grandfather of Melchizedek, hitched a wagon to a tree with a knot so elaborate no one has ever been able to untie it. At that time an oracle said (or was commanded by Gordiel to say) that whoever unraveled this so-called Gordian Knot would rule the entire world of Barbelo.
Zadkiel had heard the prophecy, of course, so when the Army of Thaumiel draws near the city hy finds the wagon and lays hyz own eyes on the famous knot. For several days, while the army camps in the surrounding countryside, Zadkiel tries to undo the knot, but to no avail. This hy does in secret, for it could be construed by Israel as an attempt to usurp hyz power by fulfilling the prophecy. Very well, since the wagon is not going anywhere soon, Zadkiel has hyz men lash Haziel’s cage to the wagon of King Gordius. For Haziel had been brought at last to the outskirts of the final holdout city of Salem to taunt har supporters there.
At a beautiful blue pool in the mountains ringing the city of Salem, Khondiel and a squad of har Fallen Angels refresh themselves, then assume their usual mode of riding slowly on their horses while they watch the greater perimeter of the city for intruders. Suchwise the Eyes of Thaumiel had also done before they were inexplicably withdrawn some weeks ago.
A nearby torrent of water is so loud that Khondiel finds it hard to hear har chief lieutenant, Imriel, speaking to har. Sha tells Imriel to repeat what sha had just said, but a bit louder. And Imriel says, “We should be back to the ferry by nightfall, having made a complete circle around the city.”
The waterfall completely blanks out the sound and vibration of onrushing hooves until it is nearly too late. Not even Khondiel’s hypersensitive mare gives warning. Suddenly Gerash horseyeng race up behind Khondiel, Imriel, and the others. At the last second Khondiel’s sword is brought out, only to crash against a mighty iron rod. There are sparks and Khondiel is knocked clean off har horse.
Another horseyang decapitates Imriel in one smooth motion. Khondiel is stunned, and grieves for Imriel, but her horse has the intelligence to linger with Khondiel rather than follow her equine instinct, which is to bolt.
Shaking har head clear, Khondiel mounts up again. Imriel is dead but four of har Fallen Angels survived the assault and they rally around har. Lumbering after them, sha recognizes their battle standard and mouths the vile name of their general with all the contempt sha could muster: “Zadkiel!”
Khondiel chases the cavalrymen like the cold wind that presages the long Barbelo winter. Khondiel’s companions loose many arrows even from their full gallop, and one of them slays the iron staff wielder. Two others who blocked Zadkiel from harm also fall, so no one remains to run interference while Khondiel slowly closes in on her fleeing target.
But Zadkiel is too far ahead. Soon hy dives into the safety of a vast forest glade guarded by a large armed encampment. Contrary to har every wish Khondiel rears back and brings har horse to a stop, and the other Fallen Angels conform to har movements. Khondiel scans all the banners and standards of the army arrayed before har and recognizes this as the main bulk of the Army of Thaumiel.
But every indication sha had put together from the path of burning towns said Zadkiel was twelve or fifteen leagues to the west. He must have led hyz army here on a forced march all night. But how did hy know to come to precisely this place? “Thaumiel,” Khondiel mutters, answering her own unspoken question.
Almost in answer, the black avatar of Thaumiel roars overhead, insurance against any more help from Chokhmah.
Zadkiel orders that the canvas covering Haziel’s cage be removed, and then Haziel is revealed to Khondiel. Zadkiel is strangely disappointed that Khondiel doesn’t brim over with emotion. Hy has no idea Khondiel has been in frequent contact with har. “You can kill me where you stand, Khondiel,” Zadkiel shouts, “but that wouldn’t be healthy for Haziel.”
Khondiel stares at Zadkiel with first wide, then narrowing eyes. Sha rides a bit closer. “Don’t sink to this, Zadkiel. I expect as much from Israel. It isn’t worthy of an unpossessed yang of the House of Gerash.”
Now Khondiel is close enough that Zadkiel can speak in a more dignified tone. He says, “Yet I find I want you working for me and not against me. Here are your only options, Khondiel. You can defeat my legions and possibly rescue poor little Haziel, but that outcome is not assured. To really keep Haziel safe you must ride at the head of my army and go where I command you in the East Lands and the West Lands, and in Salem, and every place where Thaumiel is held in contempt.”
Khondiel is frustrated by her vulnerability. Sha wonders if all her enemies have learned Haziel is her one weakness.
Zadkiel seems to read har thoughts. “Haziel has become a noose around your neck, Khondiel, and the closer you get to har the tighter that noose becomes. How easy it is to make you dance with a few simple threats to Haziel’s life!”
Sha says to hym, “Where is the honor in this, Zadkiel? The glory? You want me to command your army, but do you really want my decisions for you tainted by holding a yin I care about hostage?”
Hy replies, “Not at all, but you have left me no choice.”
Then Khondiel gets har horse up to full speed and charges toward the heart of the enemy encampment. Moving in a well-practiced dance, a century of Thaumiel’s best pikeyeng suddenly arrange themselves around Talishi’s cage, with their forest of spikes pointing directly at the approach of Khondiel.
So Zadkiel has put Haziel on display, tempting Khondiel, at the same time making it clear Haziel is completely beyond har grasp. Haziel shouts, “Khondiel! Forget about me!”
Khondiel’s voice breaks as sha calls back tearfully, “Don’t you know by now that’s the one thing I can never do?” But sha could do nothing more here. Khondiel flashes Zadkiel with a glance of pure hatred and kicks her steed, turning away to flee the scene.
“Sha is a true warrior,” Zadkiel tells Haziel, earning a wad of spit in hyz face. Hy quietly wipes it away. “Sha knows. The things you love are always used against you. Always! Sha knows!”
The Germans are not complete idiots. A U-boat captain, gazing at the shore of the Isle of Wight through his periscope, notes that St. Catherine’s lighthouse stops flashing for hours. He logs the start and stop time, and a clever intelligence agent in Berlin realizes this matches the start and stop time of the Clarinet signal originating from what they thought was a nearby tower. A second and third observation over the next two weeks verifies the anomaly.
In the early morning hours of June 3, 1944 a German submarine surfaces just offshore and commandos row ashore to raid the lighthouse, led by an SS captain named Felix Schaub who doubles as the political officer aboard the U-boat to ensure the loyalty of its crew to Hitler. On this occasion Schaub wears his black pre-war Schutzstaffel uniform for the psychological effect he knows it will have on the Gervasi family.
With Lilith and Edith whimpering in terror, tied up and threatened with pistols pointed at their heads, Benjamin demonstrates the Clarinet system to Captain Schaub, but to Benjamin’s great surprise the Germans neither destroy the gear nor try to remove it to their submarine. Instead, Schaub identifies each member of the Gervasi family by name and he tells them he knows they are Jews. He tells Benjamin that whether they live or die depend on the correct answer to precisely two questions. First: “What is the target of the immanent invasion across the English Channel?”
Benjamin stiffens in dismay. He is confronted with the choice of losing his family or betraying the trust Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay has given him. At the slightest nod from Schaub, the hammer is pulled back on the pistol pointed at Lilith’s head. Gervasi gives in. “Calais,” he says, and lets out the breath he had been holding for nearly a minute.
“Goot,” Captain Schaub says. “And the timing?”
The SS officer smiles. “I am a man of my word,” he says. “Neither you nor your wife nor your daughter will be killed. Here is what I want you to do, Mr. Gervasi. From now on, when you get orders to operate Clarinet, you will carry them out, but you will be a little sloppy when you align the antenna. Not too much! Perhaps a fraction of one degree. Only enough to throw the bombing raid off by a few hundred yards. You will do this until the British government decides it will no longer prosecute its aggression against the Reich. And more importantly, you will tell no one that you are sabotaging the raids.”
“Or you will come back and kill us.”
“Benjamin, I’m disappointed in you! What does a man have in this world if he fails to do what he promises? You have my word of honor that neither you nor your lovely wife Edith nor your beautiful daughter Lilith will be killed. But they will be taken to the concentration camp near Saint-Malo in France were all the British Jews in the Channel Islands have been relocated.”
“No, I beg you!”
“They will not be unduly mistreated there. But if we learn that a future air raid on Germany using the transmitter at this lighthouse is successful, things will not seem quite so good. But even then, my word will still hold! Lilith and Edith will be simply be transferred to a work camp deeper in France, perhaps even in Germany. Do you know, Benjamin, it really is astonishing how much work you can get out of a Jew with a whip.”
Lilith and Edith are taken in the submarine to Cherbourg, and by the evening of June 5 they are inducted into a French farm that has been dubbed a clinic for racial hygiene.
The lighthouse on the Isle of Wight is not the only Clarinet system that has been raided by Captain Schaub, but it is the only one whose operator remained alive after the raid. Schuab’s report filters up to Hitler, and the final piece of deception in the Fortitude element of Operation Bodyguard is in place. Hitler reinforces the defenses in the Pas-De-Calais region and leaves only a skeleton force at Normandy. Calais, however, is a grand feint. The real invasion takes place on the beaches of Normandy on the morning of June 6, 1944. Benjamin Gervasi’s weather forecast has led Eisenhower’s to give the order to go. Two Panzer divisions, which might have driven the invaders back into the sea, are kept on a leash by Hitler because he doesn’t trust his own generals. Hitler himself sleeps until noon and doesn’t release the Panzers until four PM, by which time the beachheads are relatively secure and Allied aircraft dominate the skies to the point of forcing German tanks to move only at night.
But for two months after the Allies are tied down in the Normandy region trying to break out of hedgerow country while the Germans attempt to contain them. The breakthrough is very near to the Saint-Malo area where Lilith and Edith are being held. To prevent their liberation the Germans move everyone in the camp to another in France far from the front lines.
Benjamin Gervasi continues to operate the Clarinet system when orders came in over the Teletype, but he deliberately alters the requested target angle slightly, believing it to be the only way he can save the lives of his wife and daughter. The deception comes crashing to an end in September when Lilith fails to register for secondary school. The constables came calling, finds evidence of the German raid, and notifies army intelligence, who in turn squeeze the truth out of Benjamin. Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay intervenes personally to keep Benjamin out of prison, but the bombing command insists that the man be sacked from his lighthouse job for the duration of the war. Benjamin despairs of seeing his loved ones again.
Patton’s 3rd Army moves across France at an unbelievable pace, performing a rapid right hook that nearly encircles Hitler’s forces opposing the invasion. Lilith and Edith move at least once a month, which is encouraging in a way, but the camps grow progressively worse the nearer they draw to Germany itself, until they arrive at an extermination camp called Ohrdruf-Nord deep in the heart of Germany proper, there to be worked to death constructing a railroad center that is never finished.
Along the way currency, gold, and jewelry (of which Lilith and Edith have none) are sent to the SS headquarters of the Economic Adminstration. Watches, clocks, and pens are sent to troops on three fronts and civilian clothing is given to needy German families. Lilith sees things that push far beyond any boundaries of human evil she previously thought must exist. And Ohrdruf isn’t even the worst camp in the hellish constellation.
Many men have a taste for sixteen year old female flesh. Lilith learned to trade her body for scraps of extra food. Some of this she eats herself, but it is purely business. The longer she can delay taking on the figure of a skeleton, the more opportunities she would have to trade her body for food. The rest of this extra food she gives to her mother. This becomes a problem during the terrifying and humiliating appells, or inspections that follow roll call and last most of the day, when Lilith and Edith are found to be wasting away at a slower rate than their companion prisoners. They are successful in feigning weakness, but it is more difficult to hide their extra weight, and suspicion is raised.
When the guns of Patton’s tanks can be heard only forty miles away and the twelve thousand inmates of the camp are being loaded onto cattle cars for transfer to Buchenwald, Edith Gervasi is discovered in possession of a little extra food. What happens after that Lilith tells no one but her father, years after the war, on his final day of life. The horror of it might even have been the thing that killed him.
Troops of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army capture Ohrdruf-Nord on April 4, 1945. Lilith is one of the few prisoners left standing.
After the war in Europe when Lilith has been sufficiently deloused and scrubbed, and has demonstrated her status as a British subject to the satisfaction of the Occupation, she is placed on a ship and sent home to her father. Meeting him on a dock at Portsmouth, Lilith gazes upon him across a great gulf which is the memory of the unspeakable ordeal she has somehow survived. They are utter strangers to each other now. On the dock and when he takes her home Benjamin tearfully begs his daughter to tell him what happened to Edith but the girl only shakes her head. Two days later, in his Portsmouth home, Benjamin catches a quick glimpse of the mass of whip scars on his daughter’s back. It would be a long time before she could summon the will to begin to recover from her experiences.
The United States has embarked on a vast but secret project to develop atomic weapons for use in the Second World War. To be safe the research is conducted in the Great American desert east of the Cascade mountain range where population is sparse. The medical facilities at the Hanford Reservation are very good, especially for treating radiation sickness. Hanford is roughly the size of an entire county of a western state, with unprecedented security arrangements. The wildest portion of the Columbia River itself forms the northern and eastern border. Kim Zinter and Sofie “Hunky” Krouse are taken to the clinic there. Both Kim and Hunky remain absolutely silent about the avatar of Chokhmah. If there is one thing Greendomites are good for it is keeping a secret.
In a few weeks the bumps in their skulls crack open and both Kim and Hunky are sedated so the doctors can take a close look. Apparently their brains aren’t even alive anymore. Their heads are now opaque to x-rays. Part of the brain of both girls actually penetrate the skull and terminate in white oval cups made of repurposed bone. The cups have smooth inside walls and many short, fine black graphite bristles growing out of the cup’s floor. It is an electrical connector with exactly fifty-five pins. If the pins are crushed or snapped off they quickly grow back just like the lead in a mechanical pencil. The doctors try shaving off the whole external structure on one of the girls but it just grows right back. They manufacture a cable that fits the connectors perfectly. In time Kim and Hunky came to call it simply the Purple Cable.
The cable proves mostly useless. The staff read electrical signals from Kim and Hunky and print them on a fat roll of paper, but they don’t know what to do with the information. Attempts to write information to the girl’s heads using the same 15 millivolt level that was present on the pins only gives them bizarre total-body sandpaper static sensations they find very unpleasant and refuse to endure again.
Very briefly, Kim and Hunky are hooked up together directly, skull-to-skull with the Purple Cable, just for perhaps a second to see what happens. In that single second risked by the investigators, they have the following wordless conversation:
Hunky: They’ll never let us out of here you know.
Kim: We could punch every combo on the door. It wouldn’t even be boring. After doing the first two or three numbers we could go automatic and snap out of the trance when the door clicks open.
Hunky: They will catch us before we even get started. They are watching us through the mirrors.
Kim: What do you mean?
Hunky: They look like mirrors from our side, but they work like windows from their side.
Kim: How do you know?
Hunky: Remember when I suddenly threw books at those two lamps and killed the lights in here? I could see people scrambling to kill the lights on their own side through the “mirrors”. I guess they aren’t perfect one-way mirrors.
Kim: But now they know that you know they’re watching us.
Hunky: Shit. You’re right.
Kim: We can turn this to our advantage.
Kim: It will take a little acting ability. We have to try to embarrass Dr. Trochmann. We have to convince him that after all this time together, confined in here, age eighteen, we’ve fallen in love with each other.
Hunky: I think I can pull that off.
In the last few milliseconds while they remain united by the Purple Cable the girls agreed to go on strike. Meaning they do not cooperate with their captors at all. They just sit there in the clinic all day and do nothing except eat, drink, use the restroom, and only speak to each other in Relbimian, the language of the Boda they invented years ago.
The girls are interrogated together and separately about the words they are speaking. They decide to keep the language to themselves as their own private thing. So the word thann, instead of a distance of about 1,700 feet, becomes “duck.” And the word chorzon, instead of a period of time of about six minutes, becomes “purfume.”
The girls keep these false words straight with their newly organized minds, and share any new false words they invent between themselves by tagging them in Relbimian to keep each other updated. So there emerges two languages, a genuine Relbimian and the false Relbimian that Dr. Trochmann’s team is hopelessly trying to piece together from Kim and Hunky’s lies. Finally, Dr. Trochmann gets fed up and separates the girls totally. Kim and Sofie go into scorched earth mode.
There are two ways of dealing with all the dead time. Kim prefers to “get tall”. She imagines herself growing in size and the clock speeds up before her eyes. Her heartbeats run together in a butterfly flutter and become a quiet hum. She speeds up, cruises for a short while, then slows back down. Her muscles are a little sore from staying in one position for too long but four hours are gone.
Hunky thinks the time-lapse movie method is too gross because she can feel her bladder fill up and she doesn’t like the way food feels moving through her intestines when she gets tall. She prefers to take a series of hour-long “naps” – little jumps in time with her consciousness simply turned off. Either way they choose, both girls are well disposed to play this waiting game with Trochmann.
Some people eat unnecessary meals from sheer boredom, but that was not a factor here, even with chubby little Kim. They only eat about every two days. Large meals, to be sure, but the other times when the nurse arrives to escort them (one at a time) out their locked doors to their meals they refuse to budge. Otherwise it would seem to them like they were continuously eating. So four meals, a couple showers, and many other stops to use the restroom or drink some water made for a rather busy “day” that compressed a full week of real time.
At length Trochmann surrenders. “Ladies, time for a heart-to-heart, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Dr. Trochmann begins, in what would be the girl’s last interview with this well-meaning technical director of the Kim & Sofie Project.
“Time for everyone to tell the truth,” Kim agrees. “So tell me, if we’re not contagious why are we still locked in here?”
“This thing is indeed contagious, otherwise how did you catch it?”
“You don’t seem too afraid to talk to us face-to-face,” Sofie puts in. “Nor does Nurse Ramsey.”
“We know it’s not transmitted through the air, like by sneezing,” he explains. “Otherwise you’d be in total isolation. And telling us more would go a long way toward getting you out of here.”
“I don’t feel sick,” Hunky says.
“Sofie, your brain isn’t even alive anymore!”
“How could we be having this conversation then?”
“I’ll tell you what we know so far. Obviously it’s artificial. It spreads just like a virus, but we’ve never seen anything like it before. When it gets in a nerve cell it sits there and learns the ropes. It learns everything that the cell does in response to chemical signals from other cells, to nutrients, hormones, everything. And it takes over the cell’s job. It uses material found on hand to remodel the nerve cell into a white structure that straddles the length of the old cell but it’s skinnier, more compact. No more sloppy life. No more proteins floating randomly in water, more like a deliberate design. Like a machine.”
“What do you mean, like a machine?”
“All those cells are dead. Both of you girls have been hooked up to an Offner Dynograph and they show nothing. Both of you are brain dead. So far it’s only had an affinity for nerve cells but we’ve been watching to see if it changes, and starts attacking other tissues in your body.”
“Why can’t we see our folks, even through glass?”
“That’s a decision for Mr. Roland.”
“My father dotes on me,” Hunky warns, “and he said he was talking to our congressman to get permission to come here and see me.”
“Mr. Roland knows about that.”
“So you’re just going to keep us here forever,” Hunky snorts.
“Because we think this has happened to you for a reason and so far we haven’t learned what that reason is. That’s where a little more cooperation from you gals would be very helpful. For instance, we don’t know what the connectors in the back of your skull are really for.”
“Sometimes I feel like some hidden things are getting more and more clear,” Hunky offers after a sigh of resignation. “I keep having the notion that we’ve been picked to be go-betweens or something. Like translators.”
Kim nods. “That’s true, I sense that too. We want to start keeping the Purple Cable with us overnight.”
He looks her in the eye, and shakes his head. “That’s entirely out of the question.”
“In that event we want the one-way mirrors removed from our space,” Hunky said.
“What one-way mirrors?”
“Come on, Doctor,” says Sofie. “You think we’re just two stupid girls, don’t you? We’ve had a lot of time on our hands, being locked up in here, and we’ve found your two filthy peeping-Tom mirrors and people looking in on us.”
“I see there’s no fooling you two. But the windows are not used for what you seem to be implying they are.”
“Look, yeah maybe we’re infectious, and you’ve got some law that says you can take away our liberty and keep us in this quarantine of yours, but guess what? We’re eighteen now. There are basic human and Constitutional rights we’re both entitled to now.”
“Like plain old-fashioned privacy! You wonder why we don’t want to play any of your games anymore? We’re tired of being watched by strangers and we’re pissed off to find out you’ve been watching us all this time without letting us know.”
For the first time he becomes aware that Kim and Hunky are holding hands, and he blushes. And the realization that he is blushing makes him blush deeper.
Kim sees the opening and drives the point home. “Look, we’re young women and you’ve locked us up in here together for a year, what did you expect?”
Hunky scoots tighter against Kim and adds, “I hope you know what we’re trying to get at here, Doc. I hope you don’t make us have to spell it out.”
“I see what you mean by privacy issues,” Dr. Trochmann said, chastened by the realization that it had, indeed, been his fault that the girls are now much more than friends. “I think this whole spat between us has been due to nothing more than bad communication.”
“I agree,” Kim says. “We should clear the way between us and continue to talk.”
“OK!” he says, his mood brightening at this breakthrough. He seems a different man. “There are some security things I need to change first, but then I’ll let you have your privacy. Curtains on your side of the windows. Honestly. You have my word.”
That activity which Doctor Trochmann assumed they were doing with their new privacy they did not do. Kim knows Sofie is spoken for. But the girls remember he wanted to change the security arrangements before granting their privacy. There is only one change in routine as far as they can tell. In the past their tormentors seemed to have the code for the door memorized and they just punched their way out without a second thought. But now, very often they would take out their wallet, or look at a scrap of paper from their pocket before punching the buttons that would let them out. That could only mean they are now scrambling the code more frequently, perhaps weekly, to balance the loss of their direct view.
Hunky almost despairs but Kim explains to her that the change actually does not make their task any harder at all. They just have to pick a fixed range and try all the combinations in it, night after night, until the daily shifting combo happened to fall into that range.
It was a hex keypad, a four-by-four square with sixteen buttons numbered 0 through 9 and A through F. The girls also knew from listening carefully that the code was always just four taps. The problem is that there is a ten second delay after trying a number before the red light resets to the yellow light and it is ready to accept another try. Kim figures if they start at 6:00 pm and go all through the night to 6:00 am, trading off at midnight, they would just be able to do all of the “Lucky 7’s.” That is, the whole range from 7000 to 7FFF.
Kim starts pounding combinations, one after the other. And when she does, she senses a tower of future moments stacking on top of each other. Each floor of that tower is an attempt to punch the combination, topping out in a moment of joy, five days down the timeline, when she would hit the right combination and the door unlock. The joyous number was 1DFC. She read it right out of her memory of the future, but that memory hadn’t presented itself until Kim started trying to punch out.
So Kim simply enters 1DFC and gets the green light after only punching in about ten different combinations. Hunky is impressed. There’s a click, and the girls step out into the muted light of the rest of the clinic, hoping it is deserted for the night. Which it is. Hunky scoops up the Purple Cable hanging from the wall in the main room of the clinic and wears it around her waist like a belt. Then Kim does the same precognitive trick with the outer door. BF76 and click. They waltz out of the building and into the cold desert night of Washington State.
It wouldn’t do to have the girls locked up inside the clinic in the not-so-unlikely event of a fire, so for safety and also as a security precaution in the unlikely case they did get out, a guard is posted in a shack nearby with bright lights flooding the doorway. The escapees stand there illuminated like deer frozen on the highway. Fortunately for them the guard isn’t expected to just stare at the outside of the clinic for the duration of his watch. Just staying awake is sufficient, it seems. So he has his back turned, hunched over a newspaper. Kim and Hunky creep around the outside of the clinic as quietly as they can until they are exactly 180 degrees around from the guard shack. Then they head straight out in the long shadow of the building.
There is no outer perimeter of eight foot high barbed wire fences or rolls of concertina wire or dogs or land mines as they feared since the clinic is intended mainly for treating Hanford’s radiation burn victims. Soon they are trodding through sand and sagebrush on a gentle slope down to the shore of the Columbia River. Kim looks up into the clear and dark desert sky and gasps at the beauty of the white phosphor Milky Way above, more stars than she has seen in her life before. But she is wearing a tan and white dress and begins to shiver in the night time desert cold. Shortly the girls come to a wire fence and Kim puts her hand out to spread the wires apart so they could crawl through, but quickly pulls back again when she senses that she is about to suffer an electrical shock. She looks at it for a moment and decides to try to roll under it. The task requires a little bit of burrowing into the sand to get more clearance. Soon they are both through the electric fence and standing at the river’s edge. In the moonlight they dimly see the roaring whitewater of the untamed stretch of the river called Hanford Reach. They both know they cannot set foot in the water right there or they would be swept away and drown.
Hunky asks Kim, “How did you solve the lock so fast?”
“It’s hard to explain,” Kim said. “It’s as though I can daydream the future. I saw the moment when I hit the right number, and then just read the number right out of my daydream. And also, just now, with the fence, I daydreamed being shocked.”
“So daydream our way out of here.”
“That’s not how it seems to work. It’s like we’re on this kind of railroad track, and I can see that we’re going to royally screw up if we keep doing what we’re doing, but my daydream doesn’t show me what we need to do to not get caught.”
The interior of the clinic is monitored on one of the earliest installations of closed-circuit television in the United States. Only the best for the Manhattan Project. By 1:00 AM a call is made to the guard shack at the Allard clinic, and soon after that the word is out on the street that Kimberly and Sofia are gone.
Still half asleep, E. G. Roland fumbles with the phone receiver and there is quite a pause before he remembers he is supposed to bring it to his ear and say hello.
“Sorry to wake you up at this hour, Director Roland, but you wanted to be informed immediately if the Zinter or Krouse girls escape. Both of them just did.”
“What time is it?”
“One fifteen in the AM, sir.”
“And who are you?”
“Sergeant Jim Lasker in Building 1002 at Pearl.”
“How did they get out?”
“As far as we know, sir, they just punched the right combination on the door and walked out.”
“The sentry at the clinic dropped the ball. Have they been picked up yet?”
“Not yet sir. But we’ll get them. We’ve had some wires tripped on the riverbank near Nancy so we’re concentrating downstream and northeast of the clinic. This is Hanford. There’s nowhere for them to hide.”